Saturday 15 June 2019

El Fondo with the Arboleas Birding Group

Saturday 15 June

There's no keeping these Arboleas Bird Group members on home turf as once more Dave and company made there up to Elche, near Alicante and that lovely El Fondo reserve.  Some great birds seen but fancy arriving after a four hour (?) drive and finding the gates locked!

El Fondo, Elche  -  Saturday 15th June

Richard came round to mine at 5.15hrs. We picked up Paul and Reyna, then John from the Overa Hotel off the autovia.
We stopped off at Cox Service Station for a coffee and tostada.  There wasn't really time to go to the football field area, so we went straight to the north gate.  Whilst we waited there, John spotted an Iberian Grey Shrike on a distant tree.  We heard both Stone Curlew and Sardinian Warbler.  Richard was first to see a flying Grey Heron and Reyna spotted a Roller flying into the eucalyptus trees next to where we were parked.  I heard, then spotted, a high flying Collared Pratincole.  John added Woodpigeon, Jackdaw and Black-winged Stilt, but his triumph was a Little Owl on some nearby power lines.  Also seen were Barn and Red-rumped Swallow, Cattle Egret, Bee-eater, Glossy Ibis and Blackbird and we hadn't even got into the reserve yet!

Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
As time went by we realised that no one was coming to open the gate, so we headed for the Information Centre.  John and I walked to the main building.  The place was all locked up, but we still had access to the hides and walkway.  We added a female Shoveler and Zitting Cisticola as we headed back to the others.  In the shallow waters adjacent to the car park we saw Glossy Ibis.  Richard had seen a passing Squacco Heron.  John found some Marbled Duck as well as Coot. Richard spotted a Greenfinch.  We walked to the enclosed pool by the Centre.  Two Marbled Duck flew out as we arrived.  There were a number of Red-knobbed Coot therein, none with ID collars on. There was another Glossy Ibis in there and some Mallard. 

Marbled Ducks Marmaronetta angustirostris (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then wandered along the raised wooden walkway.  Above us there were numerous flights of Glossy Ibis plus some Night Heron and Collared Pratincoles.  John spotted the first of a number of Whiskered Tern.  They were joined later by a pair of Gull-billed Terns.  Paul managed to spot a Reed Warbler, whilst a Great Reed Warbler later nearly showed well!  It was lovely to see two or three Mediterranean Gulls fly past in full breeding plumage.  A noisy Little Ringed Plover was seen.  We then spotted some Purple Swamphens.  Remember from my last El Fondo report there had been a fight between one and Moorhens.....Well it was still carrying on today!  Again the Swamphen lost! 
Also seen were Little Grebe, Little Egret and Common Pochard.

Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We moved on to the furthest hide next.  There were lots of Little Terns and Avocets with the odd Slender-billed Gull and Shelduck.  At the hide closer to the walkway we added Great Crested Grebe and a Little Bittern.  Some low flying Marbled Duck were also seen.  An immature Gull-billed Tern initially caused identification problems! 

Little Terns Sterna albifrons (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Walking back towards the vehicles, we added House Martin and Crested Lark.  Richard, who was unable to do the longer walk, had seen a couple of Little Bitterns as well.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Despite not gaining entry to the main part of the reserve we saw 47 species.  I think we'd only had about 8 more otherwise.  Surprisingly, the commonest bird today was the Glossy Ibis!  Lovely day's birding in good company.  Getting back home I checked my phone log.  There had been an unknown call yesterday that may have been from the Reserve.  I'm still glad we came, saw and conquered!
Regards, Dave

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